The Shrunken One-Room Schoolhouse

Former student was shocked at how her one-room schoolhouse had shrunk.

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The one-room schoolhouse where I attended the first eight years of school still stands, but the queerest thing has happened to it.

When I walked into it, the first grader, fifty-nine years ago, it was the biggest one room building my almost-six-year-old eyes had ever beheld. The rows of double desks were old, and well-scarred with years of carved initials - maybe even my Dad's. The wide boards on the floor were warped so one had to be careful not to drop a precious pencil or Crayola lest it roll through the crack. There were some holes that had been drilled near the front of the room to drain mop-water, but they served better as entrance and exit for the field mice.

Two years later a neat hardwood floor had been laid, no holes. Four rows of single desks replaced the old ones. Teacher's old roll top had been replaced by a flat-topped desk. The old swivel chair, in which I loved to play, had been replaced by a very uninteresting one. There was still plenty of room in the back for a big jacketed stove in one corner, a shelf for lunches and rack for wraps in the other, and room to play games in bad weather.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to show the building to my daughter. "That is the big building you always told me about?" she gasped.

I couldn't believe it either. I expected it to be run down after no school for over thirty years, but the size is what shocked me. You just wouldn't believe how much that old building has shrunk!

Helen Allen
Kansas City, Missouri
(Editor's Note: Mrs. Allen submitted this letter to CAPPER’s in 1979, but passed away in July 1992. Permission to use the story was given by Eva Allen.)


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.